Egbert Rühl, Geschäftsführer der Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft © Selim Sudheimer

Creative professions crucial to digitalisation

Manager of Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft explains importance of creative professions amid digitalisation

Hamburg is a media, advertising, design and games hub. And the industry accounts for 2.6 per cent of Hamburg’s overall economic performance with more growth and employment expected, according to the Kreatiwirtschaftsbericht 2016. Around 87,000 people work in creative professions. Egbert Rühl, Managing Director of Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft, a municipal institution founded to promote creative industries across the city, talks to Hamburg News about the future and interdisciplinary projects.

Hamburg News: Mr. Rühl, what exactly does the creative industry refer to?

Rühl: The creative industry refers to eleven submarkets consisting of architecture, visual art, design, film, literature, music, press, TV and radio, software, games, theatre dance and advertising. Although they may sound diverse, these markets all have creativity in common. Creative people develop new goods and content and work in flexible, fluid structures, which make the sector so adaptable. At the same time, creative professions are often economically vulnerable and political negotiating processes barely take account of them.

Hamburg News: Enter the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft. It is considered the main point of contact and a mouthpiece for creative people in Hamburg. How do you support creative professionals?

Rühl: We offer coaching, consultation, agency services in the property sector; support obtaining funding and creative opportunities for networking. At present, the Music WorX Accelerator is underway with innovative start-ups in the music industry. We support the participants for three months with workshops, space, financial means and useful contacts. Additionally, a whole series of events promote the creative sector across industries e.g. aviation, health, and the financial sector. Job shadowings, bar camps, lectures; hackathons und world cafés with emphasis on interdisciplinary exchange are new components of the programme.

Hamburg News: You have expanded your offer considerably. How did this strategic new development come about?

Rühl: The expanded offer has a great deal to do with changes that we noticed in reference to digital change and increasingly complex markets. In times of rapid change, the creative industry gains ground thanks to its special, innovative potential. Other sectors can use this potential lucratively. We invite representatives of diverse sectors from start-ups to managers of large companies to our events. This opens up entirely new markets and fields of application for creative people. We see ourselves increasingly as translators and buffers between sectors or bridge builders who bring various actors together.

Hamburg News: You say the creative industry is gaining ground amid digitalisation. But aren’t creative submarkets severely hit by transformation?

Rühl: Indeed, in the past years, we have experienced hefty slumps in the music industry and in the press sector. Free online offers available everywhere have had a brutal impact on the sector. But markets are also reinventing themselves and developing strategies to survive in the digital era. That indicates great power of innovation. Many cross-sector innovations originate in the creative industry. Just think of trends like collaboration or gamification. Other creative innovative methods such as design thinking are being used in many sectors.

Hamburg News: And what about technological progress in artificial intelligence? Could that rival creative professions?

Rühl: I am convinced that technological innovations such as artificial intelligence will never reach the innate, creative potential of human beings. Regardless of whether algorithms can now compose music – I doubt that artificial intelligence invented punk or hip-hop.

Hamburg News: Where does your passion for the creative industry stem from?

Rühl: I have worked in many creative sectors e.g. the movie industry. It’s fascinating when 50 to 70 people spend six to 12 weeks working intensely on a feature film production – almost like a travelling circus. The manner of work in the creative industries is unique. There is no routine and the content is always new. Many creations are extremely transient. They exist only in the present. At the same time, they reflect human nature.

_Many thanks for the interview Mr. Rühl! _

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